The role of visual identity in a merger context - Case Aalto University

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School of Economics | Master's thesis
International Business Communication
International Business Communication
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Objective of the Study The objective of this study was to investigate the role and importance of visual identity as a part of an organisation’s identity. The case organisation for this study was Aalto University, a merger of three independent universities: the Helsinki School of Economics (HSE), the Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and the University of Art and Design (TaiK). Based on the research objective, the following research questions were formulated: 1) What is the desired organisational identity of Aalto University and how does the new visual identity reflect it? 2) How do the employees of the former Helsinki School of Economics perceive the new visual identity of Aalto University and how do they identify themselves with the new visual identity? 3) Can corporate communication be used to facilitate employees of the former Helsinki School of Economics to move towards accepting the new organisational and visual identity of Aalto University? Methodology and Data The study was conducted with a qualitative approach. The empirical data consisted of nine semi-structured interviews of three managers of Aalto University and six employees of Aalto University School of Economics (former HSE). The themes for the semi-structured interviews and the data analysis were based on the literature review and theories on organisational identity, corporate visual identity and organisational identification. Findings and Conclusions From the management’s perspective, the desired organisational identity of Aalto University was described as new, fresh and something different, which the new visual identity was said to reflect well. The employees, on the other hand perceived that the new visual identity does not represent a high-class, prestigious university that Aalto University is or should be. Moreover, the employees found it hard to evaluate whether the new visual identity reflects the university’s desired identity, goals and vision. This was mostly due to the fact that the organisation did not seem to have a clear organisational identity. The lack of a clear organisational identity was also the main reason why the employees were unable to identify themselves with Aalto University. This study would seem to suggest that corporate communication can be used in the facilitation process. However, special attention should be paid to ensure that the content of communication matches the actions of the organisation.
international business communication, organizational identity, Corporate Visual Identity (CVI), university, merger, mmployee perceptions, Aalto University, Aalto University School of Economics